Super Mario Land

I was 10 when I first came across Game Boy in, of all places, a Florida shopping mall. It's the only eighties console I still keep to hand for a retro fix. This is partly down to its gorgeously chunky design but it's also about the two games which defined it: Tetris and Super Mario Land.

With Nintendo adapting the Wii Virtual Console concept to 3DS, the service is sure to offer a steady trickle of unforgettable and long-forgotten portable games, but this is the obvious title to start with.

A curious spin-off from the NES series, Super Mario Land exists in a weird parallel universe with new enemies, new abilities (the 45-degree fireball, the submarine- and spaceship-piloting shooter stages), and Daisy, a new damsel in distress.

A tenner says you can still whistle the tune.

But at its heart this is a classic, side-scrolling Mario platformer, with pipes, power-up mushrooms and underground stages, plenty of coins to collect and bags of baddies to stomp.

Control was never as tight as in the Super Mario Bros. series but this is still a lovely, highly playable game. The simple visuals have translated cleanly to the top 3DS screen, with the bottom screen somewhat unnecessarily listing controls.

If the price is right if - this should be a little gem that deserves a place in every games collection. Not least for its insanely catchy music - which became, lest we forget, a staggeringly awful UK top ten hit. Which we all bought, obviously.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX

Like Super Mario Land, A Link To The Past was at once a consolingly familiar and oddly unique experience for Zelda fans. No Princess Zelda, no Hyrule, no Triforce but, coming after the release of the stupendous A Link To The Past on SNES, the core experience was unmistakbly 'Zelda', which was a remarkable achievement on a portable system.


It's a typically sprawling adventure, with a huge island to explore and dungeons to roam. It's been a terrifyingly long time since I last played it through, and in a pre-GameFAQs world, I still recall the humiliating phonecalls to the Nintendo Hotline after getting stuck at one bit or another.

On 3DS Nintendo is re-releasing the 1998 DX re-release of the original, updated for Game Boy Color with, fairly obviously, colour visuals and a bonus dungeon.

A five-minute hands-on demo on 3DS reveals a sharp port of the visuals but not a great deal else. It's been a while, but as one of the great handheld adventures of the nineties it's one that, on legacy alone, will surely be worthy of revisiting.

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